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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

THE BROADENING OF HUMANISM         225

this upbringing certainly stood him in good stead when he went
to Toulouse to study law, and found himself in the company of
an eager band of students who toiled for thirteen or fourteen hours
a day in the Gargantuan manner. The vigorous health he enjoyed
made him a conspicuous figure among his paler fellows, and bore
good testimony to the physical advantages of his early education.

The central thought round which Montaigne's whole discussion
of education moves is the distinction between knowledge and
wisdom. The use of study, he constantly insists, is not to make
children grow up into men of learning but to make them wiser
in the conduct of their lives. He does not by any means despise
knowledge. He recognizes that it is " a great adornment and an
instrument of wonderful service/' especially in the case of the
people of high rank and fortune for whom he specially writes ;
and he wishes the boy with whose upbringing he is immediately
concerned in this Essay to be put in the hands of a competent
tutor to receive the instruction appropriate to his station. He
admits quite candidly that he has nothing worth saying about this
part of education, and confines himself to an enunciation of some
principles on the general method of instruction in so far as it
affects character. Three points may be singled out from a rather
discursive argument:

(i) There is no one method of teaching which is equally
suitable for all learners. The common practice of trying to educate
" many minds of different attainments and kinds with the same
lesson and the same discipline " is bound to fail with all but a few.
The bent of children's minds is so uncertain and their true natures
so readily changed by customs and rules that the teacher can only
hope for success by taking account of their special capacities.
" In face of this difficulty," says Montaigne rather unexpectedly,
" my inclination is always to direct them to the best and most
profitable things and not to attach too much importance to those
forecasts of character which we make from childish tendencies."
He does not mean, however, that the pupil must learn whatever
the teacher wants him to learn, irrespective of his own likes and
dislikes, but that in the imparting of these " best and most
profitable things," the teacher should find out where the pupil's
interests lie by listening to what he has to say about them and
noting whether he can reproduce intelligently what he has learned,
and should adapt his instruction accordingly. (2) It follows from